Although the number of youth smokers in Los Angeles is lower than in other areas of the United States, the CDC says rates of smoking have actually risen among a subset of LA youth. To address this problem, CBAM partnered with colleagues from the UCLA Semel Institute in 2008 to conduct a 6-week, open-label trial of nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) in combination with counseling for adolescents seeking smoking cessation in Los Angeles. The study used nicotine patches, which are placed on the skin to administer nicotine transdermally. This helps people quit smoking more easily by delivering nicotine consistently over time. This even distribution combats the peaks and lows which promote eventual nicotine dependence.

A total of 34 teens enrolled in the trial. All participated in one-on-one, cognitive behavioral motivational enhancement (CBME), a type of counseling that incorporates key components of practical therapy and social support interventions. Participants had the option of supplementing CBME with NRT. Participants were then tracked over time to assess the reductions in cigarette smoking, dependence and withdrawal symptoms.

This preliminary trial demonstrated that young people receiving a combination of behavioral interventions and pharmacotherapy (the NRT), were able to significantly reduce levels of smoking and severity of nicotine dependence. More research is needed to develop smoking cessation interventions that address differences in youth response, multiple overlapping psychiatric disorders, and issues of retention and adherence.

Our results were recently published in the journal Substance Use & Misuse. To read the full published study, click here.


CBAM is a multidisciplinary center that seeks to advance the prevention and treatment of chronic illnesses, especially in communities with health disparities. As part of the UCLA Department of Family Medicine, CBAM works at the intersection of academia and community with a focus on treating addictions and preventing the spread of HIV.

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